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Best of the Best: ‘Champagne Dress’ Event

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Illinois jeweler makes a habit of bringing attention-getting events to customers.

[h3]‘Champagne Dress’ Event[/h3]

[h5]Clodius & Co. Jewelers; Rockford, IL[/h5]

Best of the Best Logo[dropcap cap=I]f you saw Entertainment Tonight hostess Maria Menounos at the 2004 Academy Awards and said, “Wow, she looks like a million bucks!” … well, guess what? You way undershot the mark.

That’s because Menounos looked (at the very least) like 2.5 million bucks — which was the value of the diamond-encrusted dress the hostess wore on Hollywood’s biggest night.[/dropcap]

[componentheading]THE IDEA[/componentheading]

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Many months after the dress’s glittering debut at the Oscars, it became the focus of another big party — this time at jeweler Mark and Monika Clodius’ holiday “Champagne Dress” party in mid-November.

Bringing attention-getting exhibits to his customers is becoming a habit for Rockford, IL-based Clodius & Co. Jewelers. The jewelers have previously shown both the Empress Carolina (an 858-carat North Carolina emerald) and the American Star (the world’s largest ideal-cut diamond — a 13.42 carat, D/IF, beauty valued at $2.3 million).  

But getting permission to show the dress did turn out to be one of the taller challenges the Clodiuses have faced.

Best of the Best: 'Champagne Dress' Event

[componentheading]THE EXECUTION[/componentheading]

Best of the Best: 'Champagne Dress' EventThe owner of the dress, Michael Werdiger, co-founder of the Natural Color Diamonds Association and owner of jewelry manufacturer Michael Werdiger, Inc., uses the high-profile garment as part of his efforts to market his “Red Carpet Collection” of high-end, luxury jewelry. And his initial concern was that the market Clodius & Co. was serving wasn’t big enough. (Rockford has a population of only 150,000.)  

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So, after first learning about the dress at last year’s JCK Las Vegas fairs, negotiations took “a fair amount of time”, says Mark Clodius. Two factors that Clodius believes turned the tide with Werdiger: the lavish plans Mark and Monika developed to promote the event, not to mention their store’s status as Instore’s “America’s Coolest Store” in 2003.

Once permission to display the dress was granted, the Clodiuses moved onto the logistical challenges of hosting the event. Chief among them were insurance and security concerns. The duo had to expand coverage of their Jeweler’s Block policy, ship the dress through a bonded courier, and have armed security guards present throughout the event.

For marketing, Clodius & Co. used direct mail — developing invitations that looked like Academy-Award winner’s envelopes and sending them to their customers — “anyone who has been more than a one-time repair customer,” says Mark Clodius. In addition, the jewelers purchased a targeted mailing list of high-income individuals in the Rockford area.

[componentheading]THE REWARDS[/componentheading]

Despite terrible weather, the two-day event ended up drawing more than 700 customers to Clodius & Co. Says Mark Clodius: “We were actually packed. We wondered what it could have been like if we had had nice weather.”

Part of the attraction was seeing one of the most photographed garments at last year’s Academy Awards in person. It’s not every day a person can see a dress encrusted with 2,000 natural colored champagne diamonds (weighing in at 3,000-carats). The Clodiuses also think attendance was boosted by the fact that the “Champagne Dress” party was the first major event they held in their new stand-alone store location — which opened in early 2004.

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In the end, Clodius & Co. ended up paying approximately $7,000 for the event — with Michael Werdiger helping to foot the bill for postcards, brochures, sales representatives, and shipping arrangements.

For the Clodiuses, the outlay was worth every penny. Their store has been a part of Rockford’s retail landscape for only four years, making it a relatively “new” store in the small community. In addition to the sales they made (Mark Clodius says they sold “a nice amount of jewelry” as well as one “Red Carpet” item), media attention (including prominently placed stories in the newspaper’s business section on two consecutive days) meant an important validation of his store and positive buzz the Clodiuses know will last.

[span class=note]This story is from the January 2005 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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